The route of the Expedition Kilimanjaro

The Kilimanjaro from space

Thanks to GoogleMaps we can look at the Kilimanjaro from the sky. To make things easier I have already zoomed in on Barafu Camp, the last stop for the climb to the top. Use the navigation buttons to zoom in and out.

The Machame Route

From the many possible routes to climb the Kilimanjaro I have chosen the Machame Route (also known as the Whisky Route) as this is the most relaxing route where you and your body have extra time to enjoy and acclimatize to the heights. The Machame Route is also the route with the highest success rate in making it all the way to the summit. That's almost a guarantee to make it!

You'll see the entire Machame Route in the graphic below.

Expedition Kilimanjaro: day by day

Day 1: Arrival in Arusha, Tanzania
You either land at the Kilimanjaro International Airport or arrive by shuttle bus from Dar Es Salaam or Nairobi (see the page about flying). A driver of the hotel will pick you up and bring you to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel is optional.

Day 2: Arusha
This is a free day that you can spend in the hotel or in the streets of the lively city of Arusha. I have planned this extra day for unforeseen circumstances (delay in planes, baggagge, etc). The next day everybody will be able to start the expedition.

On this second day you will also meet your guide (or guides with a bigger group) who leads your expedition. He will brief you on the upcoming week and will be able to answer all the questions you might have at that time.

Day 3: From Machame Gate (1634 m/5363 ft) to Machame Camp (2834 m/9300 ft):
Today the Expedition Kilimanjaro really begins. The driver of the hotel will bring you to the entrance of the Kilimanjaro National Park: the Machame Gate. Here you'll have to register yourself (take along your passport number) and this is where the guide will select his entire climbing team who will carry all the equipment and your bags up the mountain.

It starts off with a beautiful and relaxing walk through the tropical rainforest. En route you can already see colobus monkeys and many wild birds. You'll have a lunch in the afternoon. At the end of the afternoon you will arrive at the Machame Camp, where the camp is already set up and a snack and hot drinks are waiting for you. After sunset, dinner will be served. The coming 6 nights you'll sleep in your tent.

Day 4: From Machame Camp (2834 m/9300 ft) to Shira camp (3749 m/12300 ft):
From the Machame Camp you'll start walking again, after a good breakfast, over the many hills that surround the Kilimanjaro, all the way to the edge of the former Shira volcano. On this day you might be able to enjoy the extreme view as you not only see the Kilimanjaro, but also are above the tree line, overlooking the valley below you. At the end of the afternoon you'll arrive at Shira Camp.

Day 5: From Shira camp (3749 m/12300 ft) to Barranco camp (3901 m/12800 ft):
From Shira Camp you will walk all the way up to the grand Lava Tower (4572 meter/15000 feet) to acclimatize and then slowly descend again to the Barranco Camp at 12,800 feet. Today will feel like the longest day of the week and you will be very happy when you reach the camp at the end of this afternoon.

Day 6: From Barranco camp (3900 m/12800 ft) to Karanga camp (3963 m/13000 ft):
Behind Barranco Camp you will notice the 300 meter steep Barranco Wall. Yep, you are going up there. At first view it might look as an impossible adventure, but when once you are up you wonder what the worries were all about. The view from up the wall is amazing. Before reaching the Karanga Camp before the end of the afternoon, you will wander along some friendly slopes along the mountain.

Day 7: From Karanga camp (3963 m/13000 ft) to Barafu camp (4600 m/15091 ft):
Today you'll experience a short walking day. You have arrived at the east side of the Kilimanjaro where you'll reach the last camp just after lunch time, or you will even have lunch there. Today is also the best day to relax a lot, because this day ain't over yet. After an early dinner you'll have to go to bed already. Tonight will be an exciting night!

Day 8: From Barafu Camp (4600m/15091 ft) to the summit (5896 m/19343 ft) and descending down again to Mweka Camp (3100 m/10170 ft):
The last major excursion begins early this day, probably around midnight! The last 3600 feet have to be challenged to reach the final summit! This 3 kilometers long walk will take about 6-8 hours, ending with the best view on the Great Rift Valley. After watching the sunrise and taking many photos comes the descent. First back to Barafu Camp (for lunch and maybe a few hours rest) and then down to Mweki Camp, below the tree line again. Today you will walk around 10 to 14 hours, but it will all be worth it!

Day 9: From Mweka Camp (3100 m/10170 ft) to Mweka Gate (1828 m/6000 ft):
On this last day you might want to say goodbye to your entire climbing team, because after today, their job is finished.

You will walk through the lush forest and eventually walk through misty rain. During this walk of 3-4 hours you will also have a last mountain lunch before arriving at the exit: Mweka Gate. Here you'll sign out at the ranger's office. A driver from the hotel will be awaiting your arrival and bring you back to the hotel in Arusha.

The expedition is over and you can enjoy a hot shower at the hotel, enjoy using normal toilets again, have your laundry done and completely relax.

Dag 10: Arusha
On this last day in Arusha you will still feel your sore muscles and hence a long journey by bus or airplane is not recommended. You'll have a breakfast buffet in the hotel. Today you can enjoy Arusha, go souvenir hunting or book a One Day Safari for example, to the Arusha National Park. Or take a cultural trip along traditional villages and visit a number of school projects.

Dag 11: Departure
Today it has to happen. Wave to that enormous rock of a mountain before the driver of the hotel brings you either to the airport or to the stops for the shuttle busses to Dar Es Salam or Nairobi. Before you know it, you will be home again!